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“Industry-first” ethical Automated Facial Recognition framework published by BSIA

03 February 2021

THE BRITISH Security Industry Association’s (BSIA) dedicated Video Surveillance Section has launched an ethical and legal use guide focused on Automated Facial Recognition (AFR) technology. The guide is the first of its kind and follows in the wake of recommendations on the responsible use of Artificial Intelligence issued by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The BSIA guidance document, entitled ‘Automated Facial Recognition: A Guide to Ethical and Legal Use’, encompasses useful terms and abbreviations as well as detail on the ethical uses of AFR. There’s a specific focus on distinctive application types verification (ie is it you?) and identification (ie who is it?).

Industry experts and members of the general public alike should be able to understand the framework as it’s deliberately aimed at all levels, while at the same time matching key messaging with that delivered only recently by the Surveillance Camera Commissioner.

The guide is intended for use by system designers, installers/integrators and end users alike. The technical elements of AFR technology are not encompassed within the document, but it does proceed to outline the important steps to be taken into account, including an assessment of the need for AFR in given situations.

Specifically, the guide highlights why AFR is needed, defines where AFR will be used (and the purpose of that use), focuses on how to conduct an ethical assessment of AFR usage based on the aforementioned OECD guidelines and also looks at how to conduct a Data Protection Impact Assessment while ensuring ethical and legal compliance in addition to proportionality.

Collaborative work

Commenting on the new guide, Dave Wilkinson (director of technical services at the BSIA and leader of the BSIA’s Working Group on AFR) explained: “This collaborative piece of work involving industry experts has produced a guide containing salient advice and recommendations on the ethical and legal usage of AFR. It will appeal to anyone working within or outside of the physical security industry. Its key aim is to ensure that this technology doesn’t cause harm to, or discriminate against, any individual in either a public or private setting.”

Wilkinson added: “The use of Artificial Intelligence is an exponentially growing part of daily life. On that basis, we must ensure that all stakeholders are fully aware of the ethical and legal considerations of using Automated Facial Recognition solutions. If not, this beneficial technology could be misused, in turn leading to loss of trust and increased scepticism about the technology.”

The BSIA wants to make sure the general public knows that this ethical and legal guidance is available for today’s companies to follow.

On that note, Wilkinson concluded: “Compliance with the law is paramount when using this technology. As such, this guide provides companies with the necessary basis on which to demonstrate their commitment to complying with the ethical realities, consequences and impacts of using an Artificial Intelligence/ Automated Facial Recognition solution.”

Precise picture

The new guide showcases a precise picture of how AFR works and is designed to remind end users of all the essential points to consider before adding a facial recognition solution to their own security system.

Readers of Security Matters should note that the AFR Working Group is now looking to further develop this guidance document into a Code of Practice or a fully-fledged British Standard.

*To download your copy of ‘Automated Facial Recognition: A Guide to Ethical and Legal Use’​ visit the BSIA’s website

**The BSIA wishes to acknowledge the assistance afforded by member companies Anekanta Consulting, Facewatch, JCI, OPTEX Europe, Secure One and Vigilance in the development of the new guide